Hawaii wildfires continue to burn, death toll rises to 67
12 August, 2023 | Srishti Ruchandani
The death toll from the devastating wildfires on Maui rose to 67 on Friday, officials said.
The death toll from the devastating wildfires in Hawaii has climbed to 67, CNN reported citing the Maui County government.
The government in the statement said, “The Lahaina fire is not yet contained.” Earlier, Hawaii Governor Josh Green said that the death toll from the wildfires on the island of Maui in Hawaii reaches 59.
Speaking to CNN, Green said that all those deaths occurred in the open and not in buildings, “as people were trying to escape the fire.” He said that there will be more fatalities. Josh Green said, “Without a doubt, there will be more fatalities. We do not know, ultimately, how many will have occurred.”
Hawaii’s Governor ordered a comprehensive review of the state’s actions in the hours after the wildfires erupted on the islands, earlier this week, including why warning sirens were not utilised to alert people on Maui.
Speaking to CNN, Green said, “I authorized a comprehensive review this morning, to make sure that we know exactly what happened and when.”
He said that the emergency officials particularly faced challenges as the flames burning near Lahaina, which ultimately turned into a firestorm that razed nearly all of the historic town had died down for sometime before suddenly reigniting, and firefighters had shifted their focus to other areas on the island.
“The telecommunications were destroyed very rapidly” at that point, Green said, meaning that the tight-knit community was unable to alert one another by phone, as they typically do when there is an emergency. “That communication was cut off,” the governor said.
Green said he is not going to “make any excuse for anyone.” However, the multiple fires burning at once had caused a “very fluid situation across the islands.” He said that despite those challenges, they will do everything that can to find out to protect the people.
US President Joe Biden spoke with Hawaii Governor Josh Green on Friday after the latter completed a survey of destruction across Maui.
White House in a statement said, “The Governor provided the President with a firsthand update and assessment of Hawaii’s latest needs, and thanked the President for the support of FEMA and other federal agencies,” CNN reported.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden declared Hawaii wildfires a “major disaster” and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas impacted by the wildfires since August 8. Biden’s action makes federal funding available to impacted people in Maui County.
A White House statement said, “Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Hawaii and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by wildfires beginning on August 8, 2023, and continuing.”
The assistance announced by Biden includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help people and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster, according to the White House statement.